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The mice don't visibly glow, but light-detecting equipment monitors correlations between the amount of light emitted and the size of the tumor as it grew. When the drug is effective, detected light emission is severely reduced after the vascular-disrupting drug being tested was administered.
"What we've done is offer proof-of-concept that BLI may be an effective and cheaper method to assess drug development and effectiveness," Mason says. "The technique is not intended to be used for imaging tumors or diagnosing cancer in humans, but it potentially allows us to do much more efficient pre-clinical experiments."
The imaging system requires a sensitive CCD camera and black box. You don't want strong light. Originally, Mason and his team used a home-built camera created by his students. That allowed them to seek a grant from the National Institutes of Health where they received a grant and purchased an IVIS Spectrum system from Caliper Life Sciences (Hopkinton, Mass. and Mountain View, Calif.).
Its optical imaging technology was designed to facilitate non-invasive longitudinal monitoring of disease progression, cell trafficking and gene expression patterns in living animals, making it a good fit for the UT Southwestern research, says Stephen Oldfield, Director of Imaging Marketing at Caliper.
"The Spectrum is self-contained and cooled to minus-90 degrees [Celsius]," he says. "The CCD has a one-inch chip for best possible sensitivity and resolution. Optics are designed to maximize light collectionóbig lens, big filters. The sensitivity is good for bioluminescence detection and has very low light levels and is capable of fluorescence in both 2D and 3D."